Interview with Eric Bauswell, President, SurfaceInk
Situation: For a domestic engineering solutions company, one of the challenges is engaging potential customers with the idea that a domestic solution can cost-effectively meet their needs. If you can combine a manufacturing solution to the service solution, this helps. What have you done to effectively communicate your solution to potential clients?
- Know your clients. Clients have expertise of their own. However, they may lack expertise in all the disciplines necessary to create a full product. How will you fill the gap?
- Know your strengths.
- Design is an iterative development process. If you increase process efficiency you can complete more process cycles in a given timeframe, advancing to final product more quickly.
- Identify your key differentiators. Target clients for whom your differentiator is a critical need. For example, we do not encourage all of our clients to manufacture overseas, but if they insist and lack experience managing overseas vendors, we can handle this for them.
- Consistency of personnel across the life of a project is important, particularly the core team.
- “Invention & Innovation” require a plan to mitigate the risk they represent. Develop the design along parallel paths, stage higher risk components or pieces of the design that represent critical path inventions such that they are proven prior to moving forward, or even take that feature out of the current design in order to develop it to a production ready solution for the next product on the client roadmap. Sometimes an invention or innovation is THE reason for the new product. In these cases the key is managing the client’s expectations regarding the significantly elevated risks that come with invention and proceeding with the understanding that the phase gates and even the production dates will slide according to the progress against developing that critical path invention or innovation.
- Expertise in material selection and understanding what can be done with materials in the manufacturing process is non-trivial, as is vendor qualification, particularly with new materials.
- Know your competitors. How do they handle similar challenges to those that you face?
- Know your vendors. “Right-sizing” your contract manufacturer to your client’s product is important. Things will go wrong, and you must assure that the contract manufacturer will give you the priority to get things back on track to meet your launch date.
You can contact Eric Bauswell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Key Words: Engineering Services, Domestic, Outsource Partner, Strengths, Differentiators, Materials, Prototype, Parallel Path, Vendor Selection